Each week, Veterinarian Stacey Wallach, owner of Town and Country Veterinary Hospital, answers pet owner questions. If you have a question for the vet, e-mail it to Gabrielle.Biondo@Patch.com.
This week she answers a recent question from one of her clients.
Question: We recently adopted a Yorkshire Terrier puppy. He is 8 weeks old and only weighs two pounds. The breeder said we should feed him several times a day for the next several weeks. Why?
Answer: Miniature and Toy breed puppies are so cute and adorable, but they can require quite a bit of extra care. Tiny babies have a hard time maintaining their body temperature. If a puppy becomes chilled, it changes the way the digestive system handles food. Even under ideal environmental conditions, itty-bitty babies have difficulty maintaining blood glucose. A puppy with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) will appear listless, may be uncoordinated (walks drunkenly), unresponsive and may have seizures. The brain is not able to burn fat or protein for fuel and relies entirely on sugar. Because sugar is metabolized quickly and little bodies burn a lot of calories, it is important to keep “fuel in the tank.” That is why it is recommended to feed them several times a day until they get a little older.
Hypoglycemia can be a true emergency. First aid at home is to rub a small amount of Karo Syrup or regular (not LITE) pancake syrup on the gums of a puppy that is listless and/or uncoordinated. Prompt medical attention is advised, especially if the puppy does not respond to the syrup. Your veterinarian can also recommend dietary supplements that may aid in the prevention of hypoglycemia.